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Hundreds of thousands of people need kidney dialysis. But as Dr. Kim Mulvihill reports, only a small number of them uses a treatment that's getting rave reviews.
Tyrone Gibson and Glorine Walker have chronic kidney disease.
The kidneys normally help rid the body of waste products and toxins. When kidneys fail, those toxins build up in the blood and can lead to life-threatening conditions.
That's where dialysis comes in-- an artificial filtering process done through the blood-- hemodialysis--or through the abdomen in what's called peritoneal dialysis.
Neil R. Powe, M.D./ John Hopkins Medical Institions: "Eight percent of the patients in this country who undergo dialysis are treated with peritoneal dialysis and the other 92 percent are treated with hemodialysis."
Hemodialysis is certainly more common. But peritoneal dialysis comes out on top when you ask the patients. That's according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In a nationwide study, more than six hundred patients answered Questions about their care.
Neil R. Powe, MD, MBA: "That's why this study is so striking in that patients who are on peritoneal dialysis rate their care much higher than those who are on hemodialysis and yet we have fewer patients who are on peritoneal dialysis in this country."
The costs are about the same. But there are some major differences.
Hemodialysis usually takes 3 to 4 hours, three times a week at a clinic, while peritoneal dialysis patients give the treatments themselves at home, usually at night while sleeping.
What's more, since peritoneal dialysis is done more continuously, it minimizes the symptom swings that often go along with hemodialysis.
"The study indicates that we need to provide more information about the treatment options available to patients with chronic kidney disease. That means providing better information about the choice of treatment options and what the quality of life will be with either of these treatments."
As to why there's such a difference? Researchers say doctors may be guiding their patients to what they're familiar with-- in this case, hemodialysis.